Dark Places

Dark Places
By: Gillian Flynn

Challenge:  RIP VIII

Published: 2009

# of pages:  345

Official description:
"I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ."

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.
The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.
As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

My opinion:  I couldn't put this book down!  I was afraid it would be too sad or gruesome for me since it is about a family that is murdered, but while it was a little graphic, it wasn't too much.  I also didn't think I'd like the character Libby after reading the first chapter, but I ended up really liking and respecting her.  Not only was this a good mystery, it was also very thought provoking on the subjects of peer pressure (especially in high school) and on raising children.  Patty, the mother, was doing the hardest job there is, on top of being a single working mother, and it was sad reading about her depression while raising 4 kids.

I recommend this to lovers of mystery and also to anyone looking for a well written novel that is a good pace.  It does have some language, but not as much as one of Flynn's other novels, Gone Girl.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Well written, likable main character, good pace, good mystery / a little graphic with bad language

Other reviews:
S. Krishna's Books

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The Lake

The Lake
By:  AnnaLisa Grant

Series:  The Lake

Published:  2013

# of pages:  306

Official description:

At 17, Layla Weston is already starting over. Having lost both her parents and grandparents, and with nowhere else to go, Layla is moving from Florida to a small town in North Carolina to live with the only family she has left: her estranged uncle and aunt. The last five years of Layla’s life were spent appeasing her less- than-loving grandmother, followed by being her grandfather’s caretaker. Growing old before her time, Layla lost her identity, she must learn how to allow herself to be loved and cared for once again. Life takes an unexpected turn when Layla meets Will Meyer. His breathtaking good looks are enough to catch her eye, but his sincerity and passion are everything she needs to find the strength and confidence she lost — and lead her into love. When tragedy once again strikes Layla’s life, her hope is all but completely crushed. Through it all, Layla learns what it means to truly love and be loved.
My opinion:  These days I don't often read young adult books that take place in modern times unless it's a fantasy or sci-fi.  I know AnnaLisa Grant and so when she published her first book, I bought it.  I was excited about the story and I wasn't disappointed!  This review is written many months since reading the book, but the story has stayed in my mind and I can't wait to read the other books in the series (maybe I'll get those for my birthday!?).

The writing style and story are definitely written for young adults, but adults can very well enjoy it too.  Like I said before, the story is interesting and sticks with the reader long after the book is over.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Interesting, great characters, often has a young adult feel to the writing

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Ashes on the Waves

Ashes on the Waves
By: Mary Lindsey

Challenge: RIP VIII

Published: 2013

# of pages: 373

Official description:

Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.
With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make awager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.
Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, "Annabel Lee," Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.

My opinion:  I think this will be included in my list of favorite books this year!  If you enjoy young adult fantasy, I highly recommend this.  It's such a sweet love story and I love the parallel with Poe's poem "Annabel Lee."  I also looked forward to the beginning of each chapter, where there were excerpts from Poe's works.

The only reason this isn't 5 stars is because it did move a little slowly at times.  I wish the murder mystery had started up a little earlier in the novel.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Unique fantasy, sweet love story, likable characters, a little slow, and - in parts - a little "too young adult."

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